Groundwater depletion in India worst in world ( GnY , Geography , GS paper 1 ,prelims )
the worst hit, shows data from NASA’s Gravity Recovery and Climate
Experiment (GRACE) satellites.
Among the world’s largest groundwater basins, the Indus Basin aquifer
of India and Pakistan, which is a source of fresh water for millions of
people, is the second-most overstressed with no natural replenishment
to offset usage, said two new studies led by the University of
California – Irvine (UCI), using data from GRACE satellites.
About a third of the Earth’s largest groundwater basins are being rapidly depleted by human consumption, the studies said.
Groundwater aquifers are typically located in soils or deeper rock layers beneath the Earth’s surface.
The most overburdened aquifers are in the world’s driest areas, where
populations draw heavily on underground water. Climate change and
population growth are expected to intensify the problem, the researchers
“What happens when a highly stressed aquifer is located in a region
with socioeconomic or political tensions that can’t supplement declining
water supplies fast enough?” asked Alexandra Richey, the lead author on
both studies, who conducted the research as a UCI doctoral student.
“We are trying to raise red flags now to pinpoint where active
management today could protect future lives and livelihoods,” Richey
The Arabian Aquifer System, an important water source for more than
60 million people, is the most overstressed in the world, the findings
The studies are the first to comprehensively characterise global
groundwater losses with data from space, using readings generated by
NASA’s twin GRACE satellites.
(Photo courtesy: http://svs.gsfc.nasa.gov/)
GRACE measures dips and bumps in the Earth’s gravity, which are affected by the mass of water.
In the first paper, researchers found that 13 of the planet’s 37
largest aquifers studied between 2003 and 2013 were being depleted while
receiving little to no recharge.
Eight were classified as “overstressed”, with nearly no natural replenishment to offset usage.
Another five were found to be “extremely” or “highly” stressed, depending upon the level of replenishment in each.
Those aquifers were still being depleted but had some water flowing back into them.
“Given how quickly we are consuming the world’s groundwater reserves,
we need a coordinated global effort to determine how much is left,”
principal investigator Jay Famiglietti, who is also the senior water
scientist at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, California,
The findings appeared in the journal Water Resources Research.
Mountain Passes in Himalayas : India
Overall, the Himalayan mountain system is the world’s highest, and is home to the world’s highest peaks, the Eight-thousanders. There are 14 Himalayan peaks with elevation over 8,000 meters (26,000 ft). The rugged terrain makes few routes through the mountains possible. Many times a few questions are asked in every competitive exam of government job on this topic. They are discussed as below
Aghil Pass (Karakoram-Ladakh): Situated to the north of K2 in the Karakoram at an elevation of about 5000 m above the sea level, it joins Ladakh with the Xinjiang (Sinkiang) Province of China. It remains closed during the winter season from November to the first week of May.
Banihal Pass (Jawahar Tunnel): Connects hill areas of Jammu to the Kashmir Valley Situated at an elevation of 2835 m in the Pir-Panjal Range, joins Jammu with Srinagar. The pass remains snow covered during the winter season. The Jawahar Tunnel (named after Pandit Jawaharlal Nehru), inaugurated in December 19.56, was constructed for round-the-year surface transport.
Bara Lacha (Himachal Pradesh with Leh-Ladakh): Situated in the state of Jammu and Kashmir at an altitude of 4843 m. It is on the National Highway connecting Manali and Leh. Being a high mountain pass, it remains snow covered from November to mid-May.
Bomdi La (4331 m, Arunachal Pradesh): Situated to the east of Bhutan in the Greater Himalayas in Arunachal Pradesh at an altitude of about 2600 m above sea level, it connects Arunachal Pradesh with Lhasa, the capital of Tibet It remains closed in the winter season owing to snowfall and adverse weather.
Burzail Pass (Srinagar with Kishan-Ganga Valley): Situated at an altitude of more than five thousand feet above sea level, this pass connects the Kashmir Valley with the Deosai Plains of Ladakh. Being snow covered during the winter season it remains closed for trade and transsport.
Chang-La (Ladakh with Tibet): Situated at an elevation of over 5270 m, it is a high mountain pass in the Greater Himalayas. The road after Chang-la is extremely steep, leading to the small town of tangtse. The pass has a temple dedicated to Chang-la Baba after whom the pass has been named. Being snow-covered, it remains closed during the winter season.
Debsa Pass: Situated at an elevation of 5270 m above sea level, it is a high mountain pass in Greater Himalayas between the Kullu and Spiti districts of Himachal Pradesh. This pass provides an easier and shorter alternative to the traditional Pin-Parbati Pass route between Kullu and Spiti.
Dihang Pass: Situated in the state of Arunachal Pradesh at an elevation of about 4000 feet this pass connects Arunachal Pradesh with Mandalay (Myanmar).
Diphu Pass (Arunachal Pradesh with Mandalay in Myanmar): Situated in the eastern part of Arunachal Pradesh, Diphu Pass provides an easy and shortest access to Mandalaya (Myanmar). It is a traditional pass between India and Myanmar which remains open throughout the year for transportation and trade.
Imis La: Situated at an elevation of over 4500 m, this pass provides an easy access between Ladakh and Tibet (China). It has a difficult terrain, steep slopes, and remains closed during the winter season.
Khardung La: Situated at an elevation of more than six thousand m above sea level, it is the highest motorable pass in the country. It joins I.eh with Siachin glacier. The road, however, remains closed during the winter season.
Khunjerab Pass (Karakoram): Situated at an altitude of more than five thousand feet in the Karakoram Mountains, it is a traditional pass between Ladakh and the Sinkiang Province of China. It remains snow covered during the winter season from November to mid-May.
Kora La Pass: on the Nepal-Tibet border at the upper end of Mustang. The Kali Gandaki Gorge (a graben), transects the main Himalaya and Transhimalayan ranges. Kora La is the lowest pass through both ranges between K2 and Everest, but some 300 metres (980 ft) higher than Nathula and Jelepla passes further east between Sikkim and Tibet.
Jelep La (4538 m): Situated at an elevation of 4538 m above sea level, this pass connects Sikkim with Lhasa. It passes through the Chumbi Valley.
Lanak La: Situated at an altitude of about five thousand metres in the Aksai-Chin (Ladakh), it connects Ladakh with Lhasa. The Chinese have constructed a road to connect the Xinjiang (Sinkiang) Province of China with Tibet.
Likhapani (Arunachal Pradesh): Situated at an altitude of more than four thousand metres above sea level, the Likhapani Pass joins Arunachal Pradesh with Myanmar. For trade and transport, it remains open throughout the year.
Lipu Lekh (Uttarakhand): Situated in the Pithoragarh District, it connects Uttarakhand with Tibet. The pilgrims for Mansarovar Lake travel through this pass. The pass is one of India’s important border post for trade with China. Landslides in the rainy season and avalanches in winter create great problems for movement and transportation.
Mana Pass: Situated at an elevation of 5611 m above sea level in the Greater Himalayas, it connects Uttarakhand with Tibet. It remains snow covered for about six months during the winter season.
Mangsha Dhura Pass: Situated at an elevation of more than five thousand metres in the district of Pithoragarh, the Mangsha Dhura Pass connects Uttarakhand with Tibet. The pilgrims for Mansarovar cross this pass. Landslides create great problems for tourists and pilgrims.
Muling La (Uttarakhand): Situated north of Gangotri, this seasonal pass joins Uttarakhand with Tibet. It remains snow covered during the winter season.
Nathu La (Sikkim): Nathu La is located on the Indo-China border. The pass, at 4310 m above sea level, forms part of an offshoot of the ancient Silk Road. Nathu-La is one of the three trading border posts between India and China. After the 1962 war it was reopened in 2006.
NiH Pass: Situated at an altitude of 5068 m above sea level, the Niti Pass joins Uttarakhand with Tibet. It remains snow covered during the winter season between November and mid-May.
Pangsan Pass (Arunachal Pardesh): Situated at an elevation of more than four thousand metres above sea level, this pass connects Arunachal Pradesh with Mandalaya (Myanmar).
Pensi La: Situated in the Greater Himalayas at an elevation of more than 5000 m above sea level, this pass connects the Valley of Kashmir with Kargil (Ladakh). It remains snow covered from November to mid-May.
Pir-Panjal Pass: The traditional pass from Jammu to Srinagar, this pass lies on the Mughal Road. After partition of the Subcontinent, the pass was closed down. It provides the shortest and easiest metalled road access from Jammu to the Valley of Kashmir.
Qara Tagh Pass: Located in the Karakoram Mountains at an elevation of more than 6000 ft above sea level, this pass was an offshoot of the Great Silk Road. It remains snow covered during the winter season.
Rohtang Pass: Located at an elevation of 3979 m above sea level, this pass connects the Kullu, the Lahul and Spin’ valleys of Himachal Pradesh. It has excellent road access, constructed by the Border Road Organisation (BRO). Traffic jams are common occurrences caused by the heavy movement of military vehicles, buses, taxis, trucks and goods carriers.
Rupin Pass: The majestic high altitude pass is situated across the rupin river in Uttarakhand, starts from Dhaula in Uttarakhand and end at Sangla in Himachal Pradesh. The un inhabited Rupin Pass located at an elevation of 4650 m (15,250 ft) in the great Himalayan ranges and consist of deep dark valleys,icy slopes and snow fields
Shencottah-Gap: Located in Western Ghats, this pass connects the Madurai city of Tamil Nadu with Kottayam city of Kerala. Shencottah is a small town also near this pass in Tamil Nadu.
Shipki La: Located at an altitude of more than 4300 m above sea level through the Satluj Gorge, the Shipki-La joins Himachal Pradesh with Tibet. It is through this pass, the river Satluj enters India, from Tibet. The pass (Indian National Highway 22) is India’s third border post for trade with China after Nathula in Sikkim and Lipulekh in Uttarakhand. It remains snow covered during the winter season.
Thang La (Ladakh): Located at an elevation of 5359 m above sea level, it is a mountain pass in Ladakh (J & K). It is the second highest motorable mountain pass in India after Khardung La.
Traill’s Pass: Located at an elevation of 5212 m above sea level in the Pithoragarh and Bageshwar districts of Uttarakhand, it is situated at the end of the Pindari Glacier and links Pindari Valley to Milam Valley. Being steep and rugged, this pass is very difficult to cross.
Thorong La: The high point of the Annapurna Circuit, it connects the Manang District to the Mustang District in Nepal.
Zoji La: Located at an altitude of 3850 m above sea level, it joins Srinagar with Kargil and Leh. Because of heavy snowfall, it remains closed from December to mid-May. The Border Road Organisation (BRO) has been trying to keep the road open for most part of the year. Beacon Force of Border Road Organisation (BRO) is responsible for clearing and maintenance of the road during the winter season. Recently, the Srinagar-Zoji-La Road has been declared a National Highway (NH-1D) by the centre.
Southwest monsoon is weakening as Indian Ocean warms rapidly(Geo, Climate , GS 3, GS 1)
Weaving trouble (Handicraft ,Down to Earth )
PASHMINA DERIVES its name from the Persian word pashm, which means soft gold. It is one of the finest natural fibers, of diameter 30 micron or less, derived from the undercoat of Capra hircus, a domestic goat native to India. A pure pashmina shawl is extremely warm and light, weighing around only 200 gm. However, machine-made pashmina shawls are mixed with nylon or angora because pure pashmina is too weak to sustain the strain of mechanical weaving.
IN APRIL 2014, a committee headed by director, Industries and Commerce, Kashmir, made recommendations to streamline pashmina manufacturing and trade. These are:
Will the veena gently weep? (Art and Culture ,The Hindu ,GS paper 1 ,prelims )
Muga Silk is a GI. GI is a genre of IP that is India’s strength. Practically everything that we grow, make or produce is linked to a particular region. For example, we often hear these examples in every day conversation: ‘Leave your Kolhapuri chappals over there.’ ‘Come in and wash your hands with Mysore Sandal soap.’ ‘Have those idlis made with the Coimbatore wet grinder.’ ‘The Darjeeling tea in the Jaipur pottery cup.’ ‘Where did you buy that Sanganeri print?’ All of them are GIs.
The golden yellow Muga Silk was registered as a GI in 2007. But only two persons applied to be its authorised users till 2014. So the focus of the GI camp at Lakhimpur was to examine this single GI and the reason behind such low awareness. It was found that the GI status of the product is not utilised to its potential, the stakeholders are unaware of the value of their GI and its benefits, the quality of these products is not standardised, and even when made by genuine persons, the quality varies. Also, the market for the products and the pricing are fragmented, and there are ‘piggyback riders’ who pass off products as GI which naturally devalues the original product. This would apply to other GIs across the country. The camp’s report noted that there is a steady stream of products “that are not “pure Muga” but mixed with other yarns and being passed off as Muga “which is detrimental to the Muga producers”.
Although the Act gives the creators/producers statutory and proprietary rights, it is insufficient. The Act must be translated into reality by state and private initiatives. GI owners also have a role to play in promoting their GI, but the undeniable reality is that many of them come from groups that are less vocal and less powerful than say trademark or patent owners. The weavers of Kancheepuram Silk (a GI) are abandoning their craft to earn their livelihood elsewhere, perhaps in one of the global corporations nearby. They know that the dignity and respect that they once commanded as master weavers cannot be earned in these occupations, but when hunger gnaws, one makes compromises. There was a master weaver and designer, Muthu Chettiar in Kanchipuram, who came to Madras in the early 20th century with just 13 annas in his pocket. His craft was so exquisite that the elite of Madras soon vied with each other to possess his saris. The colour ‘M.S. Blue’ was his creation, and the lady nonpareil who gave her name to that hue (M.S. Subbulakshmi) wore only his saris. Today, the looms in Kanchipuram are growing quieter by the day.
The government has also announced the USTTAD (Upgrading the Skills and Training in Traditional Arts/Crafts for Development) scheme in Varanasi, which is expected to enhance the traditional skills of craftsmen and artisans there. Banarasi Silk is a GI too. If the scheme is worked as conceived, it will benefit the silk-weaving families and their 40,000 looms, and ensure that the exquisite art lives on. Let me cite another example. Ikat (a GI) weaving may not last this decade. Chennai’s Kalakshetra has taken up the revival of the ancient Kodalikaruppur weaving tradition. During the 19th century, these traditional saris were produced at Kodali Karuppur village, about 30 km from Kumbakonam, for the royal family of Thanjavur, using natural vegetable dyes. They went out of fashion due to a variety of reasons. Though Kodalikaruppur is not a GI, this case must be used as an example to revive fading GIs. However, there is another issue. When the GI is made in another area by the original craftsmen, will they be entitled to retain the indication? This is a question that evolving jurisprudence will address.
SRIRAM IAS notes of all papers at one place.
Monsoon: need for better prediction of Indian Ocean events(Hindu ,Climate ,GSpaper 1 ,Geography
Introduction To Indian Culture NCERT Class 11
One stop solution for Indian Culture -NCERT Class xi
Beyond a jewel box institution ( Culture, Role of Museums,Gs paper 1, The Hindu)
Museums are not just repositories of objects that educate the public. They can also be social and interactive places where a viewer’s experience becomes important
The new Whitney, a great museum devoted to 20th and 21st century American art, opened in lower Manhattan on May 1 with Michelle Obama as the chief guest. I couldn’t wait to see the much heralded building designed by the celebrated architect, Renzo Piano, a favourite of many museum trustees and directors in the United States.
And what a thrill it was to see the spectacular site! It was less about the iconic building, à la Guggenheim Museum Bilbao in Spain, and more about its place in the surrounding community that made it so exciting. First, even before I reached the entrance, it was evident that this was a building for the people: its street-side ground floor, encased in glass, had a restaurant on the one end and a public gallery and information services on the other. The outside and inside were further connected by a loggia with a cantilevered roof. This was meant to cater to the visitors of the adjacent High Line Park, an urban oasis made out of old train tracks meant for the meat packing industry of the past.
An azure blue late afternoon New York sky over the gently waving waters of the Hudson River beckoned the visitors to the western vista of a busy lower Manhattan. Art was all around — from the visitor-friendly sculptures in the lobby to the artists-designed elevators, to the exhibition galleries and the art education studios.
A cultural centre
At every step of the way, it was evident that this was not a jewel box institution, to be protected from the everyday hustle and bustle of the city. This was no longer a temple of learning in the Western classical tradition, but a cultural centre for the people. Both objects and visitors were important in equal measure.
This was a social place that invited outsiders in, as if to say: ‘why don’t you come in and join us in exploring some parts of American art that may interest and amuse you?’ And while you are at it, you may want to share a meal in one of the restaurants ran by the famous New York Chef Danny Myers or go out on one of the several outdoor galleries, filled with some of the finest sculptures by American artists.
Every aspect of the museum — from the floor narratives to labels — reinforced the idea of a museum as a socially active place that could make the museum experience more interactive and less forbidding.
I couldn’t help but compare the new Whitney to the old one. Designed in 1966 by another celebrated museum architect of the time, Marcel Breuer, the old Madison Avenue building reflected the idea of a museum experience that shielded the visitor from the noisy, messy realities of New York.
The galleries were protected from daylight and noise, lest they distract from your viewing experience of precious objects. The art experience was to be serious and intense, requiring full attention of the viewer.
The new Whitney, by contrast, allows daylight to flood in. It has multiple outdoor spaces and staircases that allow viewers to exit the galleries and bask in the Manhattan sky light. In some galleries, you can even just take a break and sit on a couch to take in the shimmering sunlight bouncing off the Hudson river.
This movement towards making museums of the 21st century more people-friendly, which in turn profoundly changes the definition of the institution itself, does not include only the new Whitney. For much of the 20th century, museums were seen as the repository of objects; their primary mission was to acquire, preserve and present objects that could educate the public. The new Whitney shouts out the transformation of museums, now as lively cultural centres where the experience of the viewer and his or her interaction with the objects is accorded primacy. It is now understood that in order to create museums as destination spaces, they must also be an integral part of a community that sees the institution as part of its life.
Indians go to museums too
These new directions in museum-building and managing create huge opportunities for a resource-rich country like India. Indian museums are surely not short of quality objects, especially of Indian art. But the sad truth is that they continue to be stuck in the conceptualisation of the previous century.
Museums collect and categorise objects, but there is little awareness or inclination to create active pathways for visitors to engage with the rich collections. Many used to argue that the problem was the lack of resources and expertise. When large numbers of museums continue to be run by Indian Administrative Service officers, who are generalists by their own admission, it is difficult to see where imaginative ideas that are deeply rooted in the indigenous traditions but are well aware of the latest practices in museum development could come from.
While India spends far less on its cultural treasures than countries like China do, it is fair to point out that the crisis is less one of resources and more one of imagination and commitment. It is also often said that Indians are not a museum-going, art-appreciating lot. But this is not true: young people throng the Kalaghoda festival in Mumbai and the December music festival in Chennai, among others, and engage with art, music, and food. This shows that there is a thirst for more substantial cultural spaces. The issue is not that Indians are not interested in a cultural experience; it is more about connecting their expectations with the actual experience of a museum, not unlike what the new Whitney has done for its audiences.
Some have argued that there is plenty of culture to go around on Indian streets and homes. Indians don’t need to worship at the altar of a colonial institution such as a museum. This flies in the face of substantial research that shows that museums and cultural institutions can be both engines of economic growth and sources for community stability.
They can also be powerful catalysts for understanding a country’s past, and for future creativity.
A year ago, Prime Minister Narendra Modi made a case for India to be the Jagadguru (teacher of the world), as articulated by Swami Vivekananda, because of its civilisational strength. If India is serious about being a cultural leader and a spiritual teacher in the world, it will have to figure out fast how to activate the potential of its moribund museum sector and bring it into the 21st century.